I like to give myself a bit of an overarching theme to a year, and this year is “finding my way out of the comfort zone.” I’m shaking things up a bit. While I’m a believer in trusting your process once you’ve found what works for you, there are times a shake up is useful. I think you should be prepared to look at what you’ve always done and ask if this is still working. Maybe it is, maybe it’s not. We all change over the years. Being prepared to adapt to the change is key.
It’s been four years now since my first published novel, Liar’s Waltz came out and next month will see the release of my tenth m/m novel. But in the last year or so, I’ve also produced some shorts, including one F/F story. In summer last year, I changed my writing routine up a bit to work early in the morning. The journey out of the comfort zone has already begun.
A shake up isn’t only about fixing something that’s not working. My writing routine wasn’t working. I was too tired in the evening to get enough done, so that needed a new plan. But the writing m/m novels was working fine and still is. Even so I wanted to expand my horizons writing wise. I’d been missing writing women as the lead POV characters, which is one of the reasons I tried an F/F story.
So which parts of the comfort zone am I getting out of?
I changed my writing routine last summer to work early in the morning. I’d always considered myself a night owl, but when I found that wasn’t working for me any more I had to be ready to make a change. I’ve been working this way since July and while it’s certainly easier in the summer than on dark winter mornings, it’s increased my productivity drastically. I did 77k in the month for NaNoWriMo in November, and getting the bulk of my daily word count down in the morning was key to that. So that is now the new normal. I’ll be continuing it for as long as it works.
I’m definitely still writing m/m romance novels. I love them. But writing my F/F short Loose Cannon was a load of fun. I did it kind of on a whim and for the fun of writing women as the lead characters again. And it was great fun. I can’t say I had to approach it in any substantially different way than writing my M/M stories just because the characters were women. So since that went well I have plans for more this year. The next draft I plan to write is an F/F novel, and I have various other ideas for them in the queue. So by the end of the year, who knows…?
It’s not only the pairing. I’ve started working in genres other than science fiction. I suppose Patient Z was the first one of those, since zombies count more as paranormal than science fiction. I’ve written some contemporary shorts (links) and have sold a short paranormal novella to Dreamspinner Press, which will be out later this year. (Technically that’s not quite a romance either, as it doesn’t have a happy ending.)
My plans still include some science fiction setting stories, but also contemporaries—one a full on comedy—and maybe mystery, fantasy and paranormal (for one thing there’s a story set in the Patient Z universe in the works. Not a direct sequel, but could definitely include a guest appearance from Mitch and Cal.) Possibly even a historical.
This reflects my own gradually changing reading habits. In the last couple of years I’ve read more paranormal and fantasy and even crime than I’ve read sci-fi, so am starting to move into those genres in my writing. Sometimes in small steps at a time. The novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo is sci-fi romance, but is also crime with a touch of Noir.
I’ve even got an idea I’m quite keen to work on that isn’t a romance at all, though could possibly still have a gay protagonist. That’s near-future science fiction involving cryogenics, but is also crime/mystery. Fun!
So 2015 is going to be an exiting year for me. Just got to keep thinking all year, change it up, shake it up, get out of the comfort zone!